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How we came to film Muhammad Ali's last fight


Counteracting racism
Albert Maysles Film-maker
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There were several famous journalists- writers- who were there to report on the match and who- who've thought a lot about and had written about the boxing and- and one of them- one of them I began to film as we were standing not so far from the building where Muhammad Ali was working out. And at one moment Muhammad Ali's trainer came running down to- to tell us something, but he came up with this terrible anti-black kind of comment. And the journalist that I was filming- I knew that he was so sensitive to this sort of thing that he'd have something to do- or some- he'd have some reaction to it and- Oh, it was Budd Schulberg. And Budd Schulberg- anybody that knows him- he is a terrible stutterer. He writes very well but it's difficult for him to express himself because of the stuttering. But because he stutters you pay all the more attention to what he's saying, right, and so he began to talk about how he stutters, how it came to be that he stutters. He chose the most vulnerable element of his own life to kind of counteract the vulnerability of, of- for blacks in, in the way that this man had told this terrible story. Right? So then it became a whole sequence of people talking about their stuttering. George Plimpton spoke of his stuttering when he was a child. And that little thing would have made a beautiful scene.

Albert Maysles (1926-2015) known for his important documentaries on Muhammad Ali, Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles, pioneered the documentary style known as Direct Cinema. He helped create techniques still widely used in modern documentary production, as well as many of the techniques used in reality TV.

Listeners: Sara Maysles Tamara Tracz Rebekah Maysles

Sara Maysles, daughter of Albert Maysles, is currently doing her BA in East Asian Studies at Columbia University, and working as an Archivist of the photographs and photographic material at Maysles Films Inc., Albert‚s film production company. She spent ten months out of two years working with Tibetan refugees at a center in Nepal, and continues to travel back and forth between America and Asia.

Tamara Tracz is a writer and filmmaker based in London.

Rebekah Maysles, daughter of Albert Maysles, is an artist living between New York and Philadelphia. She has her own line of clothing, Blackberryrose, and co-runs the store Sodafine in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, New York, a vintage and handmade store that sells clothing, books and other products made by artists.

Tags: Muhammad Ali, Budd Schulberg, George Plimpton

Duration: 2 minutes, 8 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2004

Date story went live: 29 September 2010